Sitting in the Downtown Farm Stand, the only 100% organic grocer in my area, I watched the presidential returns come in on election night in 2016. I swore between sips of organic beer, as the election started to fall Donald Trump’s way.
How is this our country?
How is it that I can’t understand the voting decisions of nearly half of Americans?
Someone should really do something about this.
Dave Ring, the owner of the Farm Stand, hosted our small election gathering. Gary Younge, a reporter from The Guardian, was also there. Gary was reporting on Muncie, an area that went for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the primary. He told us this is how Brexit felt. One day you wake up in a different country.
Gary has kept tabs on Muncie and even came back a few months ago. Following his most recent visit, I heard Gary on a podcast saying that there was a difference between how the American and British people reacted. A lot of Brits met their new reality with resignation and cynicism, whereas Americans, known for our naive optimism and can-do spirit, met it by marching, organizing, and running for office.
Running for office. That’s what Dave decided to do.
(Learn about Dave’s campaign at votedavering.com)
When he first told me he was running for Indiana State Senate, it was kind of like when a friend hands you a book they’ve secretly written or they found religion or started a new job selling insurance–you’re happy for them, but you are reluctant to part with your time or money to support them. You think, “Maybe this is just a phase.”
I attended Dave’s first campaign meeting, mainly out of obligation, and quickly realized that Dave was taking this very seriously. He committed to not take money from any special interest group or corporation. He was for term limits and committed to limiting himself to two terms if elected. He was against gerrymandering–drawing a voting district to favor a political party. District 26 where I live and where Dave is running, looks like a giant Pac-Man eating Muncie, and was drawn to favor Republican candidates. Dave talked about three ways to redraw districts fairly and which he favored.
He talked about legalized government corruption on the local, state, and federal levels, and what he would do as a State Senator to combat it. He showed me how much local and state-level elections mattered.
I think our politicians should be individuals who teach and inspire us. Someone who we want to follow.
When I heard Dave give his campaign kickoff speech (below), I was inspired because I knew he was someone who I could learn from and follow.
I followed Dave. And for the first time I knocked on a stranger’s door in support of a candidate. I followed Dave to my first ever local protest.
An out-of-county farmer had plans to build a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) a few miles from my house and a lot of the neighbors were applying pressure on the commissioners to put a hold on the building permits until some regulations were put in place around such operations. Dave spoke at the meeting against the CAFO and then a local farmer spoke in favor of the CAFO. I knew people who knew the local farmer, and I felt a bit awkward standing on the opposite side of the issue. Dave and the farmer had opposing points of view, and, as soon as the meeting was over, Dave went up to him and introduced himself. I stood in the back of the room by myself and watched them talk.
It looked civil and friendly, and exactly what our state and country needed. Not arguing over an issue that divided us, but connecting around similarities. It looked like two people who wanted the same things–opportunities in rural areas and a healthy environment to farm and raise kids. They just had a different points of view of how to accomplish them. Nothing gets accomplished if people with opposing points of view can’t have a conversation.
Dave is a farmer and an entrepreneur. He started the Downtown Farm Stand more than ten years ago, during a time where he had to educate consumers what organic meant. Dave and Sara never compromised the core values on which they started their store. They could sell vitamin pills, which have a much higher profit margin than groceries, but they believed that all the vitamins we need are in food.
Pills are a quick fix, but the areas we need to address as a society take time and effort and work. They take someone with the patience of a farmer and the vision of an entrepreneur.
In my book, Dave is the right person for the job.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the Breaking News of our breaking federal government that we forget how much local and state elections impact our lives. Watching the news isn’t a political act, voting is.
And it’ll be my honor to cast my vote for Dave Ring tomorrow (May 8th) in the Democratic Primary.